Covid-19 cases in New Jersey rise amid outbreaks fueled by large gatherings, house parties

A child is tested for coronavirus

A child is tested for the coronavirus. The | AP Photo / Morgan Lee

New Jersey reported 565 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, its highest daily total since early June, a clear indication that the state is far from “out of the woods,” said Governor Phil Murphy.

The state’s transmission rate, a measure of how many people will likely be infected by each new patient, remains above 1.0, Murphy said during an unrelated news conference. That means that the virus is spreading faster than it is contained. The current transmission rate, he said, is 1.14.


A transmission rate of less than 1 means that each new case is spreading to less than one other person.

The 7-day rolling average of new cases, tracked by The New York Times, is rising rapidly, and the Covid Exit Strategy, a Covid-19 data website often cited by administration officials, recently downgraded the state of New Jersey from “green” to “yellow”, indicating that more caution is warranted.

“When you look at the raw numbers, it’s a mix of bags at best,” Murphy said Tuesday. “We are not out of the forest yet.”

New Jersey has recorded 180,295 coronavirus cases since March 4.

Because it is important: New Jersey has already come to ‘pause’ at its reopening once, and Murphy has repeatedly threatened to reimpose elements of the state’s stay-at-home order if the public health image worsens.

Some of New Jersey’s increasing daily case totals could be attributed to the accumulation of test samples sent to commercial laboratories. Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest testing companies in the US, reported average delays of up to seven days on Monday.

However, compliance with social distancing guidelines also seems to be fluctuating. Outbreaks of new cases have been linked to house parties on Long Beach Island, Middletown, and Stone Harbor. Large gatherings in restaurants, bars, and beaches have also been reported, with limited compliance with face coverage requirements.

According to a Fairleigh Dickinson University survey released Tuesday morning, 66 percent of New Jersey’s 809 new residents questioned whether to maintain coronavrus restrictions until a vaccine or treatment is available. Only 29 percent favor a return to normality. At the same time, 77 percent support mandatory mask requirements in public, while 20 percent say that masks should be optional and a “reflection of personal freedom.”

Background: With the exception of New York, no state has recorded more Covid-19-related deaths than New Jersey (13,905 laboratory-confirmed, with another 1,920 likely as of Tuesday). Rising totals of cases in the United States forced Murphy, along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, to direct travelers from 36 states and territories into a mandatory quarantine of 14 days upon entering the three-state area.